Get to Know Calvert Impact Capital Staff: Sheila Saxton
December 05, 2019
We're conducting a series of interviews with our staff, borrowers, and investors. We hope you'll follow along and get to know Calvert Impact Capital and our partners better. Our third interview in this series is with Calvert Impact Capital staff member, Sheila Saxton.
Name: Sheila Saxton Title: Director, Head of Loan Administration Tenure at Calvert Impact Capital: 7 years Places you’ve called home: D.C. Metro area
1. What do you do at Calvert Impact Capital?
I manage the Loan Administration team. Loan Administration works with the Investments team, the Risk team and the Legal team to close and operationalize our investments. In addition, my team is in close contact with all our borrowers as we handle all the administrative aspects of loans from disbursement to repayment for the Calvert Impact Capital portfolio and our syndication services. We work across all the teams at Calvert Impact Capital and there is no typical day.
Loan Administration takes a certain type of person. People in this kind work must be very passionate about what they're doing as well as detail oriented. I think they also must be very creative and willing to think outside of the box, and really see every problem as an opportunity for a solution. That's what I've noticed in people in this line of work. They don't just give up. They take the challenges, and they try ultimately to find a solution for the greater good.
2. What excites you most about your work at Calvert Impact Capital?
What excites me most is when I see the actual outcomes of my work, especially given that I’m a DC native. One of my main passions is affordable housing, so anytime I can see housing, I’m excited. I am a product of public housing. Through lots of hard work, my children were able to know a different life. I know what it feels like, and I know what it's like to be in that environment—So I also know how we can make a difference and change people’s lives. It’s totally rewarding work for me.
For example, I went to Detroit for the Opportunity Finance Network conference and saw how a lot of the investments CDFIs (community development financial institutions) made have helped turn around many neighborhoods. We’re currently working with Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), which is doing a DC project in Barry Farm [a public housing community in DC] so it’s great to see the impact locally, too.
3. How did you get to Calvert Impact Capital, and more specifically, into impact investing?
I used to work for Bank of America for about 25 years. I started in commercial real estate loan administration. My team did a lot of office buildings, and we did FedEx Field and Capital One Arena, but I was really interested in community development work so I eventually joined that team.
I then moved to Fannie Mae from Bank of America to work with one of my former managers. At Fannie Mae, one of my colleagues was [former Calvert Impact Capital CEO] Lisa Hall. I really liked working with Lisa, so when she left to work at Calvert Impact Capital, I looked for jobs there. I checked the website every six months for six straight years but there was never a job that fit me until 2012 when there was an opening for a loan servicing position. I got the job and I've been here since.
I really enjoy doing work that makes a difference. I ultimately got into impact investing because I’ve seen the devastation—the lack of hope—that many people have. But I’ve also seen with just some intervention, people that come from nothing can do amazing things. I seek to change the perspective practitioners bring to this work, too. I often see organizations go into communities with this preconceived notion of “I know what’s best for the community” – the worst thing you can do is go in with that attitude and not ask the people in the community what they need or what they want. Those communities then feel like these organizations don’t respect them enough to hear what their opinions are. I wanted to be a part of the catalyst that helps change that.
4. If you could have a dinner party with any three guests, dead or alive, who would you invite?
Definitely Ellen DeGeneres. In my head, she’s my good friend. She’s so fun and I just love what she does. Chrissy Teigen, too—she’s so outspoken about important issues and she’d also bring great food. Finally, Michelle Obama. Those would be my three—and they’re all women!
5. Do you have any reading or listening recommendations? (Books, podcasts, articles, etc.)
There’s this one book that I read years ago and for a while I was giving it as a Christmas gift to all my family members. The book is called “The Shack” and they recently made a movie out of it. It really changed how I think about things.
What I came away with after reading this book is that everyone is a human being—good or bad—and it’s not for me to decide what their fate should be. I really can only control how I act, and what I bring to this life. At the root of a lot of things there is so much going on with people that you don't know about, and you don't know what trauma they’ve had. Ultimately, we need a little bit more compassion in this world.
6. If you had to describe Calvert Impact Capital in one word or term, what would it be? “Family.”